‘It is my greatest honor to serve you as the state representative’

  • BLAIS

Published: 1/9/2020 9:06:51 AM
Modified: 1/9/2020 9:06:14 AM

A year ago, I was sworn in as the state representative for the 1st Franklin District. I wanted to take this opportunity at the beginning of the New Year to thank you for allowing me the honor of serving you and update you on my work in the Legislature.

As the representative for the second-largest district in the state, I have spent a great deal of time out in communities talking with constituents about the challenges you are facing and how I can best assist you.

Whether it’s the Fall Festival in Ashfield, some blueberry buckle in Buckland, the Festival of the Hills in Conway, business expansions in Deerfield, a holiday celebration in Huntington, a summer picnic in Middlefield, a town hall in Leverett, a summer afternoon at the Shutesbury Athletic Club, a water and sewer infrastructure forum in Whately or a 26-mile walk to end hunger, I am literally going the distance for you!

My day-to-day activities fall into three main categories: Introducing, considering and advancing legislation; bringing resources back to the district; and providing effective casework for individuals, non-profits, businesses, and municipalities.

Speaking of day-to-day work, Mondays and Fridays are generally reserved for district meetings. The Legislature typically holds formal legislative sessions on Wednesdays and the committees on which I serve generally meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This session, I have had the great pleasure of serving on four joint committees considering hundreds of bills: Transportation (336 bills); Public Service (354 bills); Municipalities and Regional Government (87 bills); and Tourism, Arts and Culture (16 bills).

Legislation

Since January 2019, approximately 4,500 pieces of legislation were filed in the House (compared to about 2,500 in the Senate). I sponsored 26 bills and co-sponsored approximately 250.

The legislation I introduced to establish a Massachusetts government assistance task force to address the statewide impacts of the 2018-2019 federal government shutdown was the first House-initiated legislative act to pass the House in the 191st Session.

Four of the bills I introduced have been signed into law by the governor including H.4224 which allowed the Town of Cummington to expand its town-owned cemetery. I am extremely proud to have advanced legislation that allowed my hometown of Sunderland to move from a “Board of Selectmen” to the more inclusive “Selectboard” at their request. Other local bills filed on behalf of Chester and Williamsburg have also been signed into law.

Three other pieces of legislation I introduced have moved favorably out of committee and I’ll continue to advocate for the advancement of the remaining bills I sponsored.

I voted in support of legislation related to education, climate change, public health and safety, children’s wellness, and the protection of civil and reproductive rights. 2019 legislative highlights are available on my website at repblais.org.

These game-changing pieces of legislation are significant but there are also important efforts happening behind the scenes. I have actively been involved in supporting our farmers, addressing increases in trash and recycling rates, water and sewer infrastructure challenges, advancing legislation that will address climate change and many other areas.

The two-year 191st Session will end July 31. Two of the primary areas I will focus on are transportation and the environment.

As a member of the Transportation Committee, I am keenly aware of the challenges facing our statewide transportation system and recognize that 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. The Transportation Bond Bill proposed by the Governor is currently before the legislature and I anticipate a robust discussion around transportation revenues this spring. Meaningful progress on how to provide public transportation solutions in rural areas will be a priority for me.

I will also actively support legislation that addresses the climate emergency. Young people across the globe have highlighted the negative impacts of our inaction. We must enact a visionary legislative climate package that protects current and future generations now.

Financial resources

Ensuring that the 1st Franklin District receives the resources it needs is a critically important part of serving as your state representative. Our rural communities cannot be left behind when it comes to funding. In the FY20 budget and supplemental closeout budget, I was able to secure funding for the following local projects: $25,000 for the Town of Montague to replace a failing roof on the Unity Park Fieldhouse in Turners Falls; $25,000 for the Shelburne Falls Senior Center to assist with the advancement of the chosen site; $50,000 for the Hampshire Hills Emergency Communication project to improve the emergency communications system that serves the 1st Franklin communities of Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, Williamsburg and Worthington.

Constituent services

My legislative aide, Lily Wallace, and I are always available to help you. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you are experiencing difficulties with state government or if you have ideas on how I can make government work better for you.

In addition to holding regularly scheduled office hours in Buckland, Chesterfield and Turners Falls, I hold outreach events throughout the district. If you can’t make these times, give me a call and I’ll meet you at a location that is convenient for you. My phone number is 413-362-9453 and email address is Natalie.blais@mahouse.gov. Additionally, my website (repblais.org) has helpful information.

It is my greatest honor to serve you as the state representative for the First Franklin District. I wish all the very best to you, your friends and family in 2020.

Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, serves the First Franklin District.

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